By Paul Lienert
(Reuters) - Fintech startup Spring Free EV and Cox Automotive have partnered to provide used electric vehicles to smaller businesses through a new subscription program, the two companies said Thursday.
Business owners can more affordably shift their fleets from gas-powered to electric vehicles, paying a per-mile usage fee and a modest monthly fee, according to Sunil Paul, chief executive and co-founder of San Francisco-based Spring Free EV.
"The biggest problem with EVs is that they cost too much, especially up front, compared with gas-powered cars, even though the operating cost of EVs is much lower," said Paul, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded ride services company Sidecar.
Spring Free EV has vehicle supply agreements with Tesla, Nissan and others, Paul said.
Atlanta-based Cox, a unit of Cox Enterprises, will handle vehicle acquisition, refurbishment and delivery, while Spring Free EV will handle the financial transactions with small and medium businesses.
With Spring Free EV's "mileage purchase agreement," there is no up-front cost, Paul said. The agreement works like a subscription, with users required to keep the vehicle for at least a year and a minimum number of miles. A third party owns the vehicles, and users have an option to purchase.
The initial target audience is owners of businesses from ride sharing to delivery with high-mileage vehicle fleets.
Spring Free EV is backed by a number of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, both of whom also have invested in Joby Aviation, the electric aerial vehicle startup. (This story refiles to provide full name of Spring Free EV throughout)
(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum)